After a skittish start to this shortened season, the New York Rangers are finally coming into their own, having won five out of their last six games. The Blueshirts now find themselves in second place in the Atlantic Division 28 points to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 36 points. Over the past six games, the flow of the team has coalesced around forward Rick Nash, who leads the team with 9 goals, despite missing time earlier this season with injuries. Head Coach John Tortorella has been piecing together the lines for the Rangers, trying to find which players fit best with each other after a relatively high turnover from last year’s squad.
Despite a subpar start, Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist has become the stalwart we all expect him to be in net. The Swede has lowered his goals against average to a respectable 2.24 during this recent stretch of stellar play.
Brad Richards is also rounding into form after struggling to begin the season. The center now has eleven assists and has scored two goals in the last two games. He only had one goal prior to that. Richards occasional scoring touch proved crucial to the Rangers’ campaign last year and the lack of it this year has stunted the Rangers offense. However, Richards also needs to be a marquis distributor if the team is going to succeed, which he still needs to do more consistently.
Secondary scoring has also been a problem for the Rangers outside of Carl Hagelin and Ryan Callahan, both with 7 goals and Derek Stepan, who has 5 goals. The team has seen very little scoring from its defenders as well as from its centers, the aforementioned Brad Richards (3 goals in 21 games) and Brian Boyle (no goals in 19 games).
The Rangers have begun to correct some of the problems that have plagued them throughout this season but still have work to do if they want to reach the goals they set for themselves before the season. The team is in the midst of a four game road trip, which will culminate in a visit to Pittsburgh to take on the division leading Penguins. This should act as a decent litmus test for the Rangers to see if they have indeed come out of their early season mediocrity and are ready to compete with the league’s elite.